The Rainy River District Connect Project, a venture meant to give district schools a boost in their Internet service, became reality Tuesday night after the public school board, the Northwest Catholic District School Board, Northwest ConX, and GE Capital signed an agreement.
“This will make the Internet a viable teaching tool within the classroom,” Stephen Danielson, the public board’s system administrator, told trustees at their regular monthly meeting here.
“The only place you can do that now is in a lab at a school in close proximity to Fort Frances. This changes all that,” he added.
The deal was signed by board chair Gord McBride, Education Director Warren Hoshizaki, Mark Burke of GE Capital, Timo Hiiback of Thunder Bay Telephone, and John Madigan, education director with the separate board, who was thrilled with the project’s power to connect the board here with the west end of the district.
“I think [Danielson] summed it up well when he said that it will provide a high-speed Internet connection to Our Lady of the Way [in Stratton],” Madigan noted.
“Not only do they get high-speed service but they get high-speed connection to the rest of the board,” he enthused. “It’s frustrating for students to wait a long time for web sites to download.”
Through Northwest ConX, the public board will be able to triple the size of bandwidth in the “backbone” from Fort Frances to Rainy River, said Danielson.
One-third of the bandwidth will be dedicated to the board’s usage.
Without Northwest ConX, the cost of creating a backbone network from here to Rainy River would have cost 25 times more than the board’s $60,000 capital contribution, he added.
GE Capital, in partnership with WiBand Communications, was awarded the tender by providing the comprehensive wireless solution with Cisco Systems equipment at the cost of $500,000.
Danielson noted the cost of the project to the board would mean a savings of 12 percent of what it has been paying monthly for analog service.
He added he hopes the four-phase project will be fully operational by Christmas.
The wireless project partnership was honoured with the board’s “Recognition of Excellence.”
The meeting’s second “Recognition of Excellence” went to Crossroads School.
Principal Brian Love gave a multi-media presentation on the projects and programs the Devlin-based school has undertaken in the past school year, including co-curricular sports and the school’s first Terry Fox Run, which raised $3,000 for cancer research.
“What I’m going to show you tonight is a little look at the heart and soul of our school,” Love said to trustees and board administration before his presentation.
Crossroads opened in 1996, and accommodates students in grades JK-eight.